After years of struggling with digestive issues, I finally received my official diagnosis in June of this year…Celiac. When I first learned what had really been plaguing my body for so long, the emotions were mixed. There was some relief, but there was a lot of shock and despair. The roller coaster was real and rough… Okay, great- I can fix this. Totally manageable through strict adherence to a gluten-free diet. I got this. But wait… What the hell am I supposed to eat? How am I ever going to be able to bake anything worth a damn? (Back story blurb: I’m the girl who bakes EVERYTHING for EVERYONE, whose Salted Walnut Brownies & Magic Cookie Bars are famous among family, friends, and coworkers.)
I honestly dreaded my first, true baking endeavor. My birthday fell only two weeks after my diagnosis, and I knew that the traditional cake & ice cream gig was outta the question. (*PSA: When you damage your small intestine badly enough, such as is the case with years of undiagnosed Celiac, your body is no longer able to process lactose anymore either. It’s super.*)
I spent hours upon hours upon hours on Pinterest, scouring for gluten-free and dairy-free desserts. Then I saw them: Chocolate cupcakes. Enough said, right? SOLD. I bought all my new, never-before-tried ingredients and then I waited… my sheer sanity was riding on this recipe, on this edible experiment. What if they were awful? What if I took one bite and spit it right back out?
Finally, the weekend after my birthday had passed, I dove in headfirst. Perception is reality, and these were going to be the best damn cupcakes I had ever had. Period. Five minutes in, I started to feel more reassured. Everything was coming together nicely and actually looked and smelled like every other chocolate cupcake batter I had made in the past. Minus the fact that these were made entirely in a food processor (bonus in my world- no heavy lifting required.) Into the oven they went, and within minutes the whole house smelled like chocolate heaven. Yesss…
The wait to cupcake done-ness was painstaking. So much was resting on the imaginary shoulders of these fluffy little domes. They looked like normal cupcakes. They smelled like normal cupcakes. But would they taste like normal cupcakes??? The million dollar question. It felt like it took 4 hours for them to cool enough to where I could start working on the frosting…
I diligently frosted every cupcake, trying to learn how to pipe the ridiculously thick chocolate goodness onto the top of each in some semblance of decoration. When I finally finished, it was just a short time until dinner, so like a good girl I waited until afterward to have my dessert. (I may have also still been a little scared… but who’s keeping track?)
By this point, the whole family was waiting to try them with me. Three picky and brutally honest kids, a semi-skeptical yet incredibly supportive husband, and a father-in-law who will happily eat almost anything that is put in front of him. These bad boys had to pass more taste tests than just mine.
Moment of truth…
CUPCAKE WIN! FAITH RESTORED! I really can survive life without gluten or dairy and it really can still kick ass! You guys, these cupcakes were so damn good I would have never even known they were Paleo. For real… I had two that night, and one for each of the following several nights… They are a rich, decadent treat I would gladly sink my teeth into any day.
In all seriousness, though, this really was a major win for my mental state in dealing with my diagnosis. Faith really was restored. There was a newfound sense of hope, and perhaps more importantly, a new fire had been lit. I have always loved cooking and baking, and this gave me a newfound sense of purpose. I can still cook and bake like a badass, I’m just going to do it better. Healthier. With less guilt and more goodness.
Yes, please- I’ll take two. Or three. But who’s counting?
Double Chocolate Cupcakes
Double Chocolate Cupcakes (Adapted from and aptly named by Paleo Gluten Free Eats)
Yields: 12 Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
3/4 C all-natural, unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 C finely ground almond flour
2/3 C pure maple syrup (the good stuff- the stuff with only one ingredient listed)
1/2 C unsweetened applesauce
1/2 C coconut oil, melted & cooled slightly
4 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
1/2 C dairy-free mini chocolate chips (big fan of Enjoy Life)
For the frosting:
1 C dairy-free chocolate chips
1/4 C full-fat canned coconut milk
1/4 C coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners.
- Using a food processor or blender, combine all cupcake ingredients except mini chocolate chips until smooth. Stir in mini chips.
- Using an ice cream scoop, fill each tin 3/4 of the way full.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes or until they pass the toothpick test.
- While the cupcakes cool, melt all frosting ingredients together using the double-boiler method and mix until smooth. Move frosting to the fridge to set up slightly, approximately 15-25 minutes. It should be firm enough to not run off the cupcakes but soft enough to be spread or piped.
- Enjoy immediately and have your faith restored in baking without gluten and dairy. (Refrigerate leftovers in airtight container for best results and longevity.)
The kids (justifiably) thought these delicious little morsels looked an awful lot like their favorite emoji and added some decorations of their own…
Chocolate goodness for the win…
Made these? Share your results! I’d love to hear from you. Tag me in your pictures on Facebook – @ifitbakesyouhappy . Happy Baking!